Somalia: MSF Forced to Suspend Operations in Section of Mogadishu

After two attacks on MSF's compound in Mogadishu's Medina neighborhood, MSF was forced to suspend its medical operations in the area indefinitely. 

Somalia © 2011 MSF

Following two grenade attacks in mid-March on the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) compound in the Medina area of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, MSF has suspended its medical operations in the area indefinitely.

The two grenade attacks against the MSF compound in Medina’s Wadajir district took place after nearly two months of MSF operations there. In the second incident, two guards were slightly injured.

“MSF considers this a serious incident due to the direct attacks on our premises, which were aimed at causing heavy casualties and damage to MSF,” said Joachim Delville, MSF head of mission.

MSF reaffirms its commitment to Somali communities, but insists it will not continue operations at any cost, and certainly not at the cost of the security of MSF staff and its patients.

“Following these incidents, we need to re-engage with local authorities and communities to re-evaluate if acceptable security conditions can still be guaranteed,” said Delville. “MSF calls upon all parties in Somalia to respect the lives of the civilian population and to ensure that humanitarian workers can safely access people in need.”

Of particular concern is the fate of people lacking access to free medical care in the area, especially malnourished children.

“We currently have 414 children registered in our malnutrition programs, of which 59 (14 percent) are severely malnourished and therefore facing high risk of deterioration in the absence of appropriate nutritional care,” said Delville.

Plans to open a second health facility for malnourished children in Wadajir will also have to be put on hold.

MSF had just recently opened a health facility in the Dharkenley neighborhood of Medina, offering free medical services to all, including the resident community and displaced populations. In its first two months of activities, MSF treated 3,217 children, 60 percent of whom are under five. Among them, 856 children were admitted to the nutrition program.

MSF has worked continuously in Somalia since 1991 and currently provides free medical care in eight regions of south central Somalia. More than 1,300 Somali staff, supported by approximately 100 staff in Nairobi, provide primary health care and surgery, malnutrition treatment, health care and support to displaced people, and water and relief supplies. MSF does not accept any government funding for its projects in Somalia. All funding comes from private donors.